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Tech Truce

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I have issues with technology, and They know.

I have to admit that I have been feeling hostile lately toward what currently passes for progress. To be specific, I have been resentful of how infinitely more complicated it has become, due to all the efficiencies provided by technology, to get virtually anything done. That includes the very long lists of voicemail options, the burgeoning inventory of necessary passwords, and the constant churning of software–among other things.

In fact, I just downloaded an update for my web page that has many “improvements” announced by a man talking too fast to understand with a foreign accent. It was just fine before, OK? But then if I don’t do this, at some point a message will flare on my page: “Sorry, but WordPress can no longer deal with your ignorance and your refusal to embrace innovation. Your web page has been extinguished.”

And I hit it again and again and again . . .

And I hit it again and again and again . . .

You can’t win. Over the last eight years, four of my computers have crashed, including one that was one month over a year old and thus outside the warranty. The dealer told me that it might well have been caused by a Microsoft update. Does this strike you as being suspicious?

I got new stuffings put in the shell (pardon the primitive language) and a new warranty. After a year, I declined the opportunity to renew the warranty, and a month later, the computer simply would not turn on. Does this also strike you as suspicious? What’s to stop those geeks from loading collapse if you don’t renew your warranty?

And it was that last incident that brought me to this post. My regular computer repair guy, with whom I have developed a very fine relationship that has been much to his financial benefit, once told me that there are people whose vibration or electromagnetic field or whatever creates problems with technology. That could be me. But I think there is more to it than that.

As I said, a feeling of hostility had been developing even before my computer failed. To summarize, I was in the place of believing that the Internet and computers could turn out to be the Achilles Heel of civilization, if not simply the source of a worldwide epidemic of stress and discord. I say this even though I have greatly appreciated ready access to so much information, plus Quicken in managing my finances. Quicken is good.

But I had found myself in the place of feeling like a victim of geekdom, you know these brilliant young people continually playing around in their jeans and T-shirts, working obsolescence into the software so you have to regularly upgrade, creating toy-like apps that enchant only briefly, continually complicating smart phones so that people are now actually having to take classes in order to know how to use them, etc.

Do I sound like a grinch? I am. This seems to be more about making money to me (Duh!) and just the fun of it than actually meeting specific needs. The creative frenzy is actually creating irritating secondary needs. My new need is some teen neighbors whom I could  hire weekly to train me on the latest and greatest like we used to hire them to mow our lawns.

Having vented, I feel better, so back to my computer. It quit. No matter what I did, it wouldn’t load. I had to use my backup laptop to get my last blog posted. In the process an alarm appeared stating that Microsoft is no longer supporting  XP. I need to get Microsoft 8. I tried to download that. No way. That option exhausted, the screen announced that I need to buy a new PC. Who is running my life, anyway?

I was thinking about going into exile, moving up to Georgia O’Keeffe territory, getting a little cabin and writing all day with a quill pen. In the meantime, however, I suggested to sister Kate, who likes science, that we see the documentary “Particle Fever.” It’s about the search for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Maybe the escape was ironic but it would serve.

Much to my surprise, I was mesmerized by the film and inspired by the passion of all these dedicated scientists. Some were working together on this mission in spite of the fact that their countries are implacable enemies. And here in this five-story structure, computers with more complex functions than I could ever imagine were interacting to try to discover how the universe was formed. Awe-inspiring.

In fact on the drive home, I thought, “All right. Maybe I need to rethink exile. Maybe I need to try again to deal with this frothing, electronic, digital, high-tech era of progress.”

I had earlier unplugged my PC to install my laptop, and that night I took the failed computer to the kitchen on the way to the car in the garage. My plan was to take it back to the store in the morning but first, one last check. I plugged it into a kitchen outlet. You know the way this little story ends. It worked. It has been working ever since.

I’m sure the word had gone out into the electronic field: “She’s learned her lesson. Turn on.” It’s not that I’m important. The community within the electronic field has the mind of an adolescent, a prankish adolescent.

We imagine that all  this technology is controlled by us, but it’s all connected, you know, and some of it has become much smarter than we will ever be. In fact, as these devices serve steadily to relieve us of the need to perform functions once confined to human intellect, They–the community members–are moment by moment getting the upper hand.

In the newspaper yesterday, I read about a new software that can read faces to tell better than a human whether an individual is faking pain. What makes us think that, when the power is on, they aren’t monitoring more than our faces in all sorts of ways?

Oh, dear. Now They also know that I have written this blog. If it actually goes out, it is because They have decided to use me in some way. Maybe They think it’s fun that I’ve alerted you, letting me move a piece for them as in a chess game. Oh, well. With my little vintage brain, I’m just glad I don’t have to buy a big new PC right away. But it’s coming. I know it’s coming soon.

 

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  2. Moshe Shifrine

    As they say in England: Spot on! All these apps (!?) make it easier to get the things we don’t need. Or whatever, we never thought off. You expressed my feeling in re exactly. Thanks.